To fully appreciate the dynamics of these issues, a basic understanding of digestion is essential. Although the details may be a little overwhelming, it is easy to see how the various systems within this arena contribute to orchestrating all of the biochemical events in the body. With an abundance of solid evidence linking digestive disease with shortened lifespan, illness, and lowered resistance to stress of all types, choosing a dietary format that works is one of the most important decisions we can make. But is that really enough?
Enzymes are essential to the efficient function of the entire digestive system. The environment in which these vital elements operate is equally important. Each phase of digestion plays a significant role in the overall process. One of the most important aspects of the process is the initial phase of stomach digestion. This phase has an intricate relationship to the second nervous system I discussed earlier.
From the mouth to the stomach, hormones begin to come into play. Preliminary forms of digestive enzymes are released in inactive forms to prevent the body from digesting itself. Their conversion to active form requires other enzymes called coenzymes. These coenzymes are dependent upon available zinc and manganese. Deficiencies can result in digestive disturbances.
The acidity of the stomach may denature or render food enzymes ineffective. This suggests that animal-derived enzymes, such as chymotrypsin or trypsin, may be more effective in promoting optimal ingestion than their less stable vegetable counterparts, papain and bromelain. Following a brief period of time in the stomach, partially digested food is pushed by muscle contraction into the initial portion of the small intestine called the duodenum. Here, the intestinal phase of digestion continues, while a similar process takes place at each step in the sequence. Every phase has unique requirements involving enzymes, hormones, coenzymes, trace minerals, amino acids, and proper pH. Yet no focus is placed on ensuring that whatever is being taken in is also being digested and absorbed. The assumption is made that we all digest equally and completely.
A well-rounded wellness program must be based upon three simple concepts. Step one is to ensure the proper digestion of the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats necessary for the body to sustain health and vitality. Step two is to ensure adequate blood circulation for the proper transport of nutrients, hormones, white blood cells, etc., and for the timely removal of wastes. Step three provides for the maintenance of a good micro-flora within the gastrointestinal tract, which is an integral part of the body’s biochemical, homeostatic, and immune systems. The bottom line is, we must give the body the nutrients it needs and clear away the waste.
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